Reconstructing the patterns of Homo sapiens expansion out of Africa and across the globe has been advanced using demographic and travel-cost models. However, modelled routes are ipso facto influenced by migration rates, and vice versa. We combined movement ‘superhighways’ with a demographic cellular automaton to predict one of the world's earliest peopling events — Sahul between 75000 and 50000 years ago. Novel outcomes from the superhighways-weighted model include (i) an approximate doubling of the predicted time to continental saturation (∼10,000 years) compared to that based on the directionally unsupervised model (∼5000 years), suggesting that rates of migration need to account for topographical constraints in addition to rate of saturation; (ii) a previously undetected movement corridor south through the centre of Sahul early in the expansion wave based on the scenarios assuming two dominant entry points into Sahul; and (iii) a better fit to the spatially de-biased, Signor-Lipps-corrected layer of initial arrival inferred from dated archaeological material. Our combined model infrastructure provides a data-driven means to examine how people initially moved through, settled, and abandoned different regions of the globe.
- Human ecology
- Population expansion